Last night the The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) celebrated their 60th anniversary at Foyles bookshop in London. They used the event to announce the results of their poll to discover the best ever crime novel, writer and series. EVER.
(Where was I? Bonfire night in South Norfolk. The sausage rolls were great, though.)
I’ve blogged previously about these categories being guaranteed to give predictable results, and guess what…
CWA Best Ever Novel: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
CWA Best Ever Crime Author: Agatha Christie
CWA Best Ever Crime Series: Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Although there has been some jockeying for position, there’s not much difference here to their 45th anniversary poll:
Best ever crime writer: Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers
Best novel: Sayers’ The Nine Tailors (1934), Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1939) and Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone (1868)
Best series: Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels, followed by Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
Asking different questions might have made for a more interesting story, at least. Favourite living crime writer? Most overrated series? Most underrated novel? Funniest book? Who made you want to write crime?
While I’m asking questions, what about the shortlists? Just one European author – seriously? And only four Americans (I’m including Chandler)? (And I’m also wondering if Elmore Leonard only made it because of his recent death. Not that he doesn’t deserve his inclusion.)
CWA Best Ever Novel
The Big Sleep (1939) by Raymond Chandler
Gorky Park (1981) by Martin Cruz Smith
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Long Goodbye (1953) by Raymond Chandler
The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins
Murder on the Orient Express (1934) by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) by Agatha Christie
The Nine Tailors (1934) by Dorothy L Sayers
On Beulah Height (1998) by Reginald Hill
The Silence of the Lambs (1988) by Thomas Harris
CWA Best Ever Crime Author
Arthur Conan Doyle
Dorothy L Sayers
CWA Best Ever Crime Series
Albert Campion – Margery Allingham
Adam Dalgliesh – PD James
Dalziel & Pascoe – Reginald Hill
Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
Philip Marlowe – Raymond Chandler
Inspector Morse – Colin Dexter
Hercule Poirot – Agatha Christie
John Rebus – Ian Rankin
Lord Peter Wimsey – Dorothy L Sayers
I’m sure the 600 members of the CWA must have more to offer than this simple retread. The recent Books to Die For might have been unsystematic and full of gaps, but it threw up a few surprises and smacked of personal choice rather than a dutiful homage to the pantheon.
If any of my readers went, I’d be interested to know what the reaction was on the night.